I have a TV producer friend I worked with years ago who at some point landed as one of the many producers of American Idol when that singing show was a monster hit dominating U.S. television. She later told me an interesting story about Carrie Underwood, the country-western singer who won American Idol Season 4. That story can stand as a lesson applicable to far more than just TV talent shows. It’s especially useful for the purposes of this column for explaining IBM’s Watson technology and associated products. You see the producers of American Idol Season 4 knew before the season was half over that Underwood would win. And, by the same token, […]
I wouldn’t normally be writing a column early on a Saturday morning but I just read that John Ellenby died and I think that’s really worth mentioning because Ellenby changed all our lives and especially mine.
If you don’t recognize his name, John Ellenby was a British computer engineer who came to Xerox PARC in the 1970s to manufacture the Xerox Alto, the first graphical workstation. He left Xerox in the late 1980s to found Grid Systems, makers of the Compass — the first full-service laptop computer. In the 1990s he founded Agilis, which made arguably the first handheld mobile phone that wasn’t the size of a brick. Finally he […]
Twenty-one years ago, when we were shooting Triumph of the Nerds, the director, Paul Sen, introduced me to his cousin who was working at the time on a big Department of Transportation research program to build self-driving cars. Twenty-one years ago! Yet what goes around comes around and today there is nothing fresher than autonomous cars, artificial intelligence. You know, old stuff.
As you can see from this picture, driverless cars were tested by RCA and General Motors decades earlier, back in the 1950s.
What changed from 1995 until today in my view comes down to three major things: 1) 21 years of cumulative automotive research; 2) demographic changes that might […]
Last week Moon Express, a contender for the Google Lunar X-Prize (GLXP), announced that the company had received interagency approval from the White House, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Department of State and other U.S. government agencies “for a maiden flight of its robotic spacecraft onto the Moon’s surface to make the first private landing on the Moon.” This heady announcement got a lot of press including this story I am linking to because it was in the New York Times, the USA’s so-called paper of record. If the Times writes “gets approval to put robotic lander on the Moon” it must be true. Only this story isn’t true. Yes, […]
Delta Airlines last night suffered a major power outage at its data center in Atlanta that led to a systemwide shutdown of its computer network, stranding airliners and canceling flights all over the world. You already know that. What you may not know, however, is the likely role in the crisis of IT outsourcing and offshoring.
Whatever the cause of the Delta Airlines power outage, data center recovery pretty much follows the same routine I used 30 years ago when I had a PDP-8 minicomputer living in my basement and heating my house. First you crawl around and find the power shut-off and turn off the power. I know there is no […]